London mayor to visit India on investment hunting trip

'London loves India' will be the underlying message London mayor Boris Johnson will carry with him as he embarks on a week-long three city visit to the country this month to attract investment and promote trade.

The visit that starts November 25 will take him to Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai, and will also try to assuage concerns in India over a tightening visa regime for students in the UK.

During the visit, eight to 10 captains of the industry will accompany Johnson as he would explore, among others, opportunities in the retail sector where the government of India has promised new reform.

Answering questions on the tightening of the visa regime, particularly student visas, Johnson said some of the decisions taken on the visa system were "counter- productive" and blamed the former Labour government for the failure of the visa regime.

"The problem was caused by the shambolic failure of the visa system under Labour that let too many illegal people to enter the country," he told Indian journalists here. In India, Johnson will hold discussions with concerned chief ministers and captains of the industries particularly in the Small and Medium sectors.

A mission from UK Universities will also be in Delhi during the visit.

The issues that are likely to come up during the visit are participation of British companies in the urbanisation and modernisation in India where a USD 1 trillion is expected to be spent in the next five years on infrastructural development.

Besides, exploring opportunities in the multi-brand retail sector, the focus will be on financial services, higher education and attracting more Indian students to UK universities.

Johnson said there has been substantial increase in the number of Indian students studying in the UK but admitted things could be better.

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